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FSF: New Apache License not GPL-Compatible 405

Posted by timothy
from the clashing-clauses dept.
__past__ writes "It seems that the XFree86 issue is not the only licensing battle currently fought in the FLOSS world: An update to the FSF's list of Free Software licenses lists the new Apache License, Version 2.0 (which has been discussed on Slashdot before) as not being GPL-compatible, due to a clause related to software patents." (Read on for more.)

__past__ continues "The new version of the Apache license will apply to all Apache projects, including the popular web server and many Java libraries like Xerces and Log4J, and making it easier to integrate Apache- and GNU-licensed code was one of the primary goals for its development. With the new license being GPL-incompatible (just like the older Apache licenses were), it is not possible to distribute programs that use libraries covered by under it and others covered by the GPL.

Apparently, the FSF does not actually consider the patent-related clauses a bad idea, let alone non-free - it is just that they impose a restriction that the GPL does not, and that makes the license automatically incompatible. It might even be that GPL Version 3 will include similar statements or at least allow them, as a message from FSF legal counsel Eben Moglen indicates. Additionally, prominent Apache hacker Roy Fielding claims that it doesn't really matter what the FSF thinks about the matter, because according to the Apache Software Foundation, derived works can just be distributed under the GPL."

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FSF: New Apache License not GPL-Compatible

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  • by Ryvar (122400) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:13PM (#8319759) Homepage
    Slightly concerned that we'll look back and say "Well, 2004 would've been the year Linux arrived in a big way . . . EXCEPT THAT WE TORE OURSELVES APART AT THE SEAMS."

    I don't mean to panic-monger or scream that the sky is falling without due cause - but this is all starting to get a bit worrying. Open Source has enough problems right now without actively helping its opponents.

    --Ryv
    • by pheared (446683) <kevin@nospAm.pheared.net> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:18PM (#8319866) Homepage
      Who's tearing what? You can't say that you are "pro-OpenSource" and then say "Well, unless it's an important piece of software. We can always make exceptions."

      Seems to me that everything is carrying on as it always has.
      • by pla (258480) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:31PM (#8320026) Journal
        You can't say that you are "pro-OpenSource" and then say "Well, unless it's an important piece of software. We can always make exceptions."

        True, but we don't need to...

        Both the change in the X license, and now this from Apache, do not in any way violate the spirit of the free/open source movement. X simply wanted a bit of credit (not unreasonable, considering that I've actually had people familiar with RedHat ask me what OS I used, on seeing my Slackware fileserver on which I never even installed X... People associate X as a critical part of Linux). And Apache... Well, I think most of us would agree that rejecting patented contributions seems more in keeping with the spirit of free software than allowing them.

        Basically, we as a community need to come up with a bit of a modification to section 6 of the GPL, the part that prevents additional restrictions as terms of the license. These "problems" will only cause a real schism if we sphexishly stand by that clause.

        Not that section 6 doesn't have merit - But allowing certain categories of additional requirements would not in any way hurt us, and may well benefit us in the long run (ie, this addition by Apache strikes me as so obviously good that it surprises me to realize that the GPL doesn't already mention it, since how can code under a nonexpired patent ever count as "free"?)
        • by Short Circuit (52384) <mikemol@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:45PM (#8320187) Homepage Journal
          I'd like to see a clause in GPL3 that says something like "All patented contributions must be freely licensed for this work and automatically so for any legally derived works."

          Or something like that.

          Hey! Let's start a petition! Petition the FSF to include a statement to that effect in GPL3, and to release GPL3 by the end of the year.

          That'll be something to look forward to. :) I don't have the time to spawn the petition, but if I see it on Slashdot, I'll sign it.
          • by __past__ (542467) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @06:07PM (#8320393)
            Petition the FSF to include a statement to that effect in GPL3, and to release GPL3 by the end of the year.
            I think it is pretty likely that the GPL3 will include something on patents anyway, this actually seems to be one of the two major reasons why people feel an update is neccessary (the other one being the "ASP hole", i.e. the GPL not being prepared for a web application scenario)

            It being released this year seems less likely, AFAIK it is still in pie-in-the-sky mode. Sure, you can petition them about it, but remember that the consequences of a rushed, ill-concieved GPL V.3 would be way worse than that of a delayed one. "Release early, release often" probably doesn't work that well for legal documents.

            • by T-Ranger (10520) <jeffw@@@chebucto...ns...ca> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @07:45PM (#8321343) Homepage
              I don't understand the problem here. RMS is old enough to remember when computers were big and centerlized.

              A "computer utility" was the purpose behind the Multics project. Many mainframe hardware manufactures, in addition to small regional based outfits, opearated ASP style businesses as far back as the 1960's. ASPs are nothing new.

              Ive said it before, HTTP+HTML - markup language with forms, client side rendering, few bits going accross the wire, is conceptually exactly the same as IBM 3270 terminals worked. A 1960's time sharing computer company is conceptually exactly the same as a 2004 web bases ASP.

              They should have seen this coming.

              • by GigsVT (208848) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @08:14PM (#8321612) Journal
                Are you sure you are both talking about the same kind of ASP here? (Active server pages vs Application service provider)

                The way I understand the problem, a GPL server-side app might send out pieces of itself, either in the form of static HTML which is GPLed, or snippets of what could be considered executable code (Javascript, etc), which are also GPLed.

                If this counts as distribution of GPLed code, then many people who make modified works of GPLed server-side web apps might be in violation of the GPL by not distributing the rest of the source. It seems to be a gray area right now.
          • by Losat (643653) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @06:40PM (#8320707)
            It already has such a provision.

            Finally, any free program is threatened constantly by software patents. We wish to avoid the danger that redistributors of a free program will individually obtain patent licenses, in effect making the program proprietary. To prevent this, we have made it clear that any patent must be licensed for everyone's free use or not licensed at all.

            ...

            7. If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.

            However, it has this available geographic restriction.
            8. If the distribution and/or use of the Program is restricted in certain countries either by patents or by copyrighted interfaces, the original copyright holder who places the Program under this License may add an explicit geographical distribution limitation excluding those countries, so that distribution is permitted only in or among countries not thus excluded. In such case, this License incorporates the limitation as if written in the body of this License.
          • by Dastardly (4204) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @07:03PM (#8320971)
            "All patented contributions must be freely licensed for this work and automatically so for any legally derived works."

            As another poster said the GPL already says this. The clause that makes the Apache license incompatible is that it adds a sentence that terminates any patent rights granted by others to use the product if you exert patent rights on the product differently from what is stated in the license. Basically, this is implied in the GPL with regards to copyright. i.e. if you don't distribute your copyrighted material in the product according to the GPL, you have no right to distribute my copyrighted product. Apache makes it explicit with regard to patents.

        • by Phillup (317168) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:54PM (#8320287)
          Basically, we as a community need to come up with a bit of a modification to section 6 of the GPL, the part that prevents additional restrictions as terms of the license. These "problems" will only cause a real schism if we sphexishly stand by that clause.

          So, you are suggesting that you be able to place restrictions on code that the original author did not place on the code?

          That is what I'm hearing... that you want to be able to place restrictions on the code that someone else wrote.

          Which makes me wonder... why don't you just use a BSD type license?

          The GPL seems to me to be specifically for people that don't want others placing additional restrictions on their work.
          • So, you are suggesting that you be able to place restrictions on code that the original author did not place on the code?

            I said nothing of the sort.

            If you contribute to a "pure" GPL project, you agree to release your code under the terms of the GPL.

            Similarly, if you contribute to Apache, you agree to release your code under the Apache (2.0?) license.

            If, however, you release code to a GPL project which later adopts a different license, than, by the GPL, you have every right to demand either the remo
            • Well, I read the quoted part to say that you thought "standing sphexishly by" section six to be a problem... and that you thought additional restrictions should be allowed.

              Which sounded a lot to me like: after the code is released we should be able to place additional restrictions on it.

              Then you say...

              Even assuming, for whatever reason, you cannot withdraw your code, by someone releasing it against your will under a more restrictive license, you haven't lost anything at all...

              To which I say, yes... yo
          • by JohnFluxx (413620) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @06:43PM (#8320737)
            I was going to mod you down, but decided to reply instead.

            This is why when you add a GPL license to your code, you either say "Placed under the GPL version X" or you say "Placed under the GPL version X or later".

            Since the license is versioned, you can change the GPL, and not run into problems with changing the license on code people didn't want the license changed on..
          • by adrianbaugh (696007) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @08:50PM (#8321921) Homepage Journal
            Surely he isn't saying that; rather, that an "ideal" GPL would have a clause where you could say "licensed under the GPL, but if you intend to contribute to this project your contributions have to be free of patent encumberment (ie patent-free or guaranteed to be free of license fees)". This, IMO, would be a Good Thing as it would prevent (say) a media player being contributed to by Sorenson, only for Sorenson to turn round a few years later and say "oh, by the way, all your base are belong to us in patent royalties for that code we submitted". Not that I'm suggesting Sorenson would do that, it's just an example. Extra restrictions in the GPL to counter that kind of thing would be quite welcome (AFAIAC). It doesn't impose additional restrictions, but it does mean that if patent-holders contribute they can't later hamstring the entire project.
    • by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:23PM (#8319929)
      Testing the value we place in the idea of open source will not tear the community apart, it will strengthen and clarify.

      And of course its a tempest in a teapot for practically everyone out there in the real world.

    • by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:24PM (#8319939) Homepage Journal
      The Free Software community is not in the business of making "Open Source" succeed.

      Your bias is evident in your choice of words and implicit goals.

      (Mine is evident in that I point yours out ;-)

      -Peter
      • by frodo from middle ea (602941) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:50PM (#8320241) Homepage
        If I ever saw an insightful comment, this is one.

        Why does every person, who is interested to see open source succeed in business environment, making it a resposibiity of the OSS community.

        OSS software for most parts was never written with the objective to form a free alternative to propritory software. Most OSS projects started because of fustrations of the author at using the tools that existed at hand, and the inability to circumvent those tools, (the tools being propritory in nature).

        Linus never wrote the linux kernel , so that it can topple the microsoft empire, much as most of you like to belive. neither was he interested in fighting the big Unix vendors at that time. He just wanted his own version of Unix to tinker with and Minix wouldn't allow him to do just that.

        So to all those who say "This could have been a break through year for OSS, but for ....". Please go read some philosophy behind OSS.

    • by Directrix1 (157787) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:24PM (#8319940)
      Apache license has never been compatible with any GPL besides LGPL.
    • by irix (22687) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:25PM (#8319953) Journal

      Relax.

      Notice how the FSF and the Apache group are discussing the license? They'll work things out - no need for panic mongering.

    • by petabyte (238821) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:25PM (#8319960)
      Actually I'm not worried.

      You tear things apart at the seems and stitch it into new things. Opensource seems to have always been about that. Projects will fork if there is a major issue that can't be worked around.

      And who is tearing who apart?. As the post says derived works can be distributed under the GPL. The next version of the GPL will probably take into account patents and issues between these two licenses can probably be worked out then.

      In the mean time, I'll still be using boa :).
    • by bad enema (745446) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:29PM (#8319997)
      It's only February my friend. There's plenty of time to screw it all u-... err, fix things up.
    • by orasio (188021) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:31PM (#8320030) Homepage
      RTFA
      Nobody is fighting here.
      The FSF wrote a letter explaining license incompatibility issues in Apache license 2.0, and they even say its not a bad idea, in the listing of licenses.
      They state that the incompatibility exists, because it does, and they even imply that they might fix it themselves, so what's the problem?
      Anyway, who cares about "Linux" arriving in a big way? What is important is that free software continues to advance, and most of all, continues to be _free_, and license incompatibilities are bad in that they dont allow the cooperation between the ASF and the FSF (and XFree people), who are probably the most important developers of free software.

    • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:33PM (#8320060)
      Slightly concerned that we'll look back and say "Well, 2004 would've been the year Linux arrived in a big way . . . EXCEPT THAT WE TORE OURSELVES APART AT THE SEAMS." I don't mean to panic-monger or scream that the sky is falling without due cause - but this is all starting to get a bit worrying. Open Source has enough problems right now without actively helping its opponents.

      Sounds like chicken little to me. Heck, even the FSF doesn't have a problem with this. From the article:

      " This is a free software license but it is incompatible with the GPL. The Apache Software License is incompatible with the GPL because it has a specific requirement that is not in the GPL: it has certain patent termination cases that the GPL does not require. (We don't think those patent termination cases are inherently a bad idea, but nonetheless they are incompatible with the GNU GPL.)"

      Does anyone think this will keep Apache from being distributed with Linux? I doubt it. Does the presence of the BSD license somehow harm the GPL? No. Will this license bring doom upon all linux users? No.

      Seriously, RTFA next time instead of gunning for FP, the articles are frequently quite enlightening.

    • by falsified (638041) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:39PM (#8320111)
      It doesn't need to be released under the GPL to be okay. To define open source as GPL-only is somewhat stupid. Where's the tearing apart? Also, what seams? You're suggesting that there's some singular group that CAN be torn apart. Apache can do whatever the hell it wants, and probably will. To add some weak patent clause (and I read it, and I don't see any possible problem) is no big deal. I know you don't mean to panic-monger, so...don't do it.
    • No, because this is what is supposed to happen with both Free Software and Open Source. You check the licenses, make sure everything is compatable and works together. The FSF and OSI both work toward this goal. The FSF just said "Apache 2 is Free Software, but is incompatable with version 2 of the GPL, and will likely be compatable with version 3 of the GPL"

      All these groups are working together to accomplish shared goals. Everybody has the same target in mind and are pretty tolerant of different detail

  • GPL (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gildenstern (62439) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:13PM (#8319762)
    I know this is will be Flamebait but with all these problems maybe the GPL should change.
    • No. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Svartalf (2997) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:18PM (#8319869) Homepage
      The problem is not one of the GPL being problematic, but rather people not thinking through what they're doing with their licensing. One of the GPL's purposes is to ensure that the code stays available to those that are interested in it as long as they are so interested. Pretty much only the GPL and LGPL do this of all the licenses out there. The other variants do this to some or no degree (MPL and APSL do some of this, but they're not as strong as the GPL is in this regard and the BSD/MIT/Artistic variants tend to not protect you from propritization of the code at all...).

      In the case of the new XFree86 license, it's a stupid play on their part to try to get more recognition (there's other ways to do this, folks- not a single player in the FOSS community is claiming that they're the ones that produced XFree86 at this point in time.) and I'm sure that the Apache license is probably another example of something not being quite thought out in the ramifications department.
      • Re:No. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Walterk (124748)
        Is it that hard for GPL fanatics to understand that some people don't WANT protection against people using their code in proprierty projects? I love the BSD license, exactly because it doesn't limit my code. Everybody (except GPL users appearently) can use my code, which I create under the BSD license, because I enjoy coding. And no, I don't care if Sun, Apple or Microsoft uses my code. If they do, well, I hope they choke on it.

        BSD style license give freedom, but no security. GPL gives limited freedom, but
        • Uh, dude... (Score:5, Informative)

          by Svartalf (2997) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:43PM (#8320166) Homepage
          You just invalidated your entire rant.

          If you use the BSD, I can relicense the whole damn thing under the GPL unless you're using the oldest version of the license that requires the advertising.

          Better yet, you're confused about the licensing...

          BSD licensing gives you absolute freedom- including proprietarizing the code. Nothing wrong with that. I just don't like the thought of someone taking my hard work and making money off of it- I want to reserve that privilege for myself, thank you.

          GPL licensing gives you the freedom to do whatever you want with the code, so long as you give the people recieving the binaries the same rights you got, including on any enhancements you did to the code.

          That's a dramatic difference from what you're claiming of things. Is it all that hard for BSD licensing proponents (the moment you labeled me a GPL fanatic, you resorted to ad-hominem, and I will not stoop to that level, thank you...) to get the fact that BSD isn't incompatible for the most part? Is it all that hard for a proponent of the BSD or similar license to figure out that there's going to be people that do not want to use your preferred license for varying reasons?

          (Here's a clue for you, me bucko- I've got stuff licensed under GPL, LGPL, BSD, AND MIT/X out in the world right at the moment. I know all about all the popular Open/Free licenses and I tend to pick the one that works or makes the most sense for each piece of code I license to the rest of the world.)
        • Re:No. (Score:3, Informative)

          by ross.w (87751)
          Actually, there's nothing stopping anyone from incorporating BSD licenced code into a GPL project any more than it stops Microsoft or Adobe.

          It can't be done the other way though. Neither proprietary nor GPL code can be put under a BSD licence.
        • Re:No. (Score:5, Informative)

          by caseih (160668) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:55PM (#8320299)
          You're missing the point with regards to the GPL. Having a license that's not compatible with the GPL is fine. It's just that there are ramifications that need to be considered. If a library is licensed in a way that's not GPL compatible, all that means is that GPL'd programs cannot link against it. If that's the design of the author, then that's fine (a la Microsoft's licensing schemes for their WinCE SDK). In the case of XFree86 this is a big deal for distro makers because the majority of their software is GPL'd and under the new licensing terms there's no way to legally link the gpl'd code against the XFree86 libraries. In the case of Apache, there's not really a problem here; Apache has never been GPL compatible. You just have to be aware of the terms when you develop.

          As for your falacies regarding freedom and the BSD and GPL licenses, those have been dealt with thoroughly before, except to say that your attitude works well for a small project, but for a large project (especially a large, self-contained project like a whole OS), the GPL offers you the developer more freedom and protection from greedy folks than the BSD would.

          No, the GPL isn't the problem here. And it's hardly a virus. Just because Apache is not GPL compatible doesn't mean the Apache foundation is going to be pressured (or mysteriously forced by way of some magical IP beast) to go GPL. Let's end that FUD right here and now.
        • Re:No. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by RedWizzard (192002) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:56PM (#8320302)
          BSD style license give freedom, but no security. GPL gives limited freedom, but great security. Wasn't it one of the founding fathers of the US who said "those who are willing to give up a liberty for security deserve neither"?
          Yeah, it's a nice quote, but your use of it is fundamentally flawed. The author of a piece of code is not giving up any freedom by licensing it under the GPL. With the GPL the author retains all freedoms, and gains a measure of security in how that code is used. This is true of virtually all licenses as they generally specify the rights of the user, not the author, and almost never involve a transfer of copyright.

          That quote doesn't apply to the users' situation either. Both the BSD and GPL licenses grant users additional rights over the rights they are guarenteed by law. By default users have no right to distribute. So the users are not giving up freedom because they did not have it in the first place.

  • by ehack (115197) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:13PM (#8319765) Journal
    Is the gpl a text that says "if you change a word of this text you shall be excommunciated from the religion of Free Software, Stallman prophet ?"
    • by GigsVT (208848) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:21PM (#8319908) Journal
      Actually, here are some proposed additions for GPL Version 3:

      For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the license of this code, If any man shall add unto these things, RMS shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this license.

      And if any man shall take away from the words of the license of this code, RMS shall take away his part out of the license to this code, and out of the open bazaar, and from the things which are written in this license.
    • Is the gpl a text that says "if you change a word of this text you shall be excommunciated from the religion of Free Software, Stallman prophet ?"

      DDOS the heretic!

      Cast him into the flames of Redmond!
  • Retroactive... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BJZQ8 (644168) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:14PM (#8319778) Homepage Journal
    One good thing about formerly GPL'ed software...companies can't retroactively go back and say that you have no right to use it...and, more than likely, the community isn't going to force you into using it (ala Longhorn circa 2008)...
  • by garcia (6573) * on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:14PM (#8319780) Homepage
    They are compatible. Whether or not they are considered compatible by the FSF is an opinion only they can make, but given that a derivative work consisting of both Apache Licensed code and GPL code can be distributed under the GPL (according to *our* opinion), there really isn't anything to be discussed.

    They obviously don't care if it is distributed under the GPL, which means that they won't fight anything having to do with it being distributed in that manner, so what's the difference?
    • by ComputerSlicer23 (516509) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:48PM (#8320226)
      Whatever code you are distributing it with. That would make a difference. So if you take Apache, and combine it with GCC (don't ask me how, just play along). You've violated GCC's GPL license, or you've removed restrictions from the Apache License.

      Now Apache might not care, but if that is actually the case, they should just dual license it like Perl does. Then you can go play with GPL stuff if you want, or you can not play with the GPL stuff. The Apache people feel strongly enough about it, that they don't want to be seen as endorsing the GPL (that's my guess). Along with all that, Apache could get themselves into legal trouble if they allow some people to blantantly disregard the license. (I'm not sure of the precendents in this area of law, I know that with Trademarks, you'd lose it).

      If Apache wants to explicitly state: "It's all good, if you use this in a GPL'ed project", they should just dual license it. Then it's all good. If not, then legally, you have no legs to stand on in a court of law. If somehow the Apache foundation loses the copyright to it, you'll have no legs to stand on. Do what is legal, not what is "pseudo-legal", you never know when someone could change their mind. A legal document is a legal document, a vague statement of: "We don't care", isn't a legally binding statement until it's upheld in a court of law.

      Kirby

      • by Alan Cox (27532) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @06:38PM (#8320681) Homepage
        I must disagree

        If the copyright owner says "Sure you can do that", then you can. The only reason for all the paperwork people have is to prove agreements. In most countries permission under copyright law doesn't need to be written and signed.

        Apache (as owners) said you can GPL derivative works if you want - end of discussion.

        Trademark btw works very similarly except that its easier to create a promise by inaction ("estoppel"). You can in some cases lose the ability to enforce copyrights in some situations through estoppel too, but you don't lose the copyright per se just the ability to enforce it in some situations

        Apache adding it as a footnote to their license would neaten it up but its hardly essential. Of course you then have openssl and other bits to consider. Really no standard loaded set of Apache packages has ever been GPL compatible, and except for the mysql4 problem nobody has had any problems due to it.

  • by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:14PM (#8319784)
    What's next? The current GPL, version 2, will not be GPL version 3 compliant?
  • What the heck? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Chuck Bucket (142633) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:15PM (#8319807) Homepage Journal
    I feel like i've been sleeping for months, all of a sudden this is all hitting the fan? What, will we all have to run some Hurd variant soon to be fully compliant?

    CB
  • not bad (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:16PM (#8319817)
    at a first glance it sounds like a bad thing, but after rtfa it sounds pretty cool to me, it avoids problems
  • Who knows (Score:4, Interesting)

    by barenaked (711701) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:16PM (#8319819)
    I believe that you can distribute a program under the GNU General Public License and a seperate Trademark license. That is what AbiSource does with AbiWord. And I don't think it restricts the freedom of the user since it is still allowed to distribute derived works. What does not seem to be compatible with the GPL is trying put any further restrictions on the user by invoking normal copyright law. By trying to use copyright law in the Apache license to restrict the rights of recipient to use an arbitrary word in the use of their derived work doesn't seem to be compatible with the GPL. (That arbitrary word would of course be Apache in this case :) Although if you have a real trademark on that word then clause 4 and 5 could be seen as just stating that the Apache License does not grant someone the right to use the word Apache since it is a trademark. But if that is the case then you could easily take away all confusion by using something like the following instead of clauses 4 and 5: This license does not grant you the right to use any of the trademarks of the Apache Software Foundation. "Apache" is a trademark of the Apache Software Foundation and products derived from this software may not be called "Apache", nor may "Apache" appear in their name, without prior written permission of the Apache Software Foundation. I think that would make sure that the new Apache License is compatible with the GPL.
  • by the_skywise (189793) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:16PM (#8319824)
    So why the hyperbolic headline?

    I haven't read the new license, but so long as it allows derived works to be licensed under the GPL and still allows the source to be viewed, used and modified without fear of retribution... I don't have a problem with it.
    • by __past__ (542467) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:21PM (#8319903)
      Because GPL-compatibility was one of the reasons to develop ASL V2 in the first place (as the article states, by the way). That it didn't work out is kinda disappointing.
  • GPL Evolution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Linus Sixpack (709619) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:17PM (#8319826) Journal
    In this case it seems that the Apache license review is just in advance of the GPL license review process. A stance on Patents is an obvious license addition and the FSF should be examining this to make a clear position public PDQ IMHO.

    I hope these licenses say things like:

    Software Patents are bad and we support their abolition but if they are enforced in your area these are the rules you must follow regarding this software etc..... If you don't like these rules help abolish _all_ software patents.

    LS
  • Patent termination (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mukund (163654) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:17PM (#8319839) Homepage

    We don't think those patent termination cases are inherently a bad idea, but nonetheless they are incompatible with the GNU GPL.

    Patent termination is likely a good idea in these times although it is not technically compatible with version 2 of the GNU GPL license. This does not mean the ASF is in any way evil. It will make sense if you read the new Apache license. Maybe even the GNU GPL should adapt patent litigation based termination as a clause in the future.

  • From the FSF site (Score:5, Informative)

    by FuryG3 (113706) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:18PM (#8319870)
    This is a free software license but it is incompatible with the GPL. The Apache Software License is incompatible with the GPL because it has a specific requirement that is not in the GPL: it has certain patent termination cases that the GPL does not require. (We don't think those patent termination cases are inherently a bad idea, but nonetheless they are incompatible with the GNU GPL.)
    • by Aardpig (622459)

      We don't think those patent termination cases are inherently a bad idea, but nonetheless they are incompatible with the GNU GPL

      The obvious solution is to modify the GNU GPL, but the eyes of some this would amount to heresy of the highest order. We should be wary of such resistance to change; do we want an evolving license which suits our needs best, like the "amendable" US constitution, or a set-in-stone license like the "inerrant" bible?

      For sure, the GPL has been allowed to evolve since its first pen

      • by be-fan (61476) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:45PM (#8320178)
        Bullshit. There is no "orthodoxy fetish of RMS" at work here. The FSF isn't saying "though shalt not include patent clauses in your license." It's saying, "well, patent clauses aren't a bad idea, but as it is written, v2.1 of the GPL is not compatible with licenses that include a patent clause." The GPL is designed to be amended, and v3 of the GPL will most likely address patent issues.

        The XFree86 license change was a just a stupid idea from the beginning. There is no point changing the GPL to suit that...
  • by Kelson (129150) * on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:19PM (#8319882) Homepage Journal

    From the FSF page linked in the article:

    The Apache License, Version 1.1.

    This is a permissive non-copyleft free software license with a few requirements that render it incompatible with the GNU GPL.

    We urge you not to use the Apache licenses for software you write. However, there is no reason to avoid running programs that have been released under this license, such as Apache.

    No falling sky here. Move along.

    • by sys49152 (100346) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:37PM (#8320088)
      Exactly! Why all the hullabaloo all of a sudden? The Apache license and many others have long been incompatibile with the GPL, that does not make them any less free. I was under the impression that we "elected" the OSI to be the final arbiter of what is and is not an open source license.

      BTW, surf over to gnu.org and take a look at the long list of GPL incompatible licenses [gnu.org]. These include Apache, Mozilla, PHP, Zope, Apple, and more. Again I ask, why all the excitement?
      • Why all the hullabaloo all of a sudden?

        Because one of the reasons for developing the ASL 2.0 was to make it GPL compatible.

        You are right, the situation has not become worse than it was. But it hasn't become as good as was expected either. The GNU project and the Apache Foundation are arguably the two most important FLOSS projects, and that interoperability between them keeps being hampered by incompatible licenses is just annoying, especially when it is only due to stupid legal details that are in princ

  • Motivation? (Score:4, Funny)

    by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:24PM (#8319936) Homepage
    To understand what is going on and possibly even how to approach a resolution it's important to understand the motivation for such apparent shifts.

    So to those people "in the know" or those with a pretty good idea, I ask you what is the motivation for these two (XF86 and Apache) free software icons to shift away to GPL-incompatible licenses?

    I'm not even going to jump to "Microsoft conspiracy theory" though the timing is pretty interesting...
    • Re:Motivation? (Score:3, Informative)

      by johnnyb (4816)
      Apache was never GPL-compatible. The only shift _away_ from GPL was XFree86. Apache is actually shifting _towards_ GPL-compatibility, but the news story is that it still has terms that prevent that compatibility.
  • by hoegg (132716) * <ryan.hoegg@NoSPam.gmail.com> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:25PM (#8319952) Journal

    Many developers have strong convictions about which license they wish to use when releasing their code. However, I think that they'd often rather reuse and extend an existing library that does not use their license of choice than be burdened with re-implementing that functionality within their products or creating a new project with their license-of-choice. These kinds of incompatibilities encourage duplication of effort and discourage collaboration on many projects.

    I often wonder whether this problem could be mitigated or even solved by some creative license language. I'd like to license my software in such a way that it could be reused by projects using any of a majority of the other open source licenses. Also, I'd like to modularize it so that it could take advantage of high quality software released under otherwise incompatible licenses.

  • by tverbeek (457094) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:25PM (#8319959) Homepage
    Incompatiblity between the Apache licence ver 2.0 and the GPL is nothing new. The FSF cites other problems with the 1.x Apache licences. They also say that "there is no reason to avoid running programs that have been released under [the 1.1 Apache] license".

    The question of GPL compatibility becomes a problem only when a package contains links directly to GPL code, as seems to be the case with XFree86. If the packages are distinct enough, any "free" licence (which is the term the FSF uses for Apache's) is OK for the two to coexist in a distro.

  • by dmeranda (120061) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:25PM (#8319961) Homepage
    Back when the GPL1 and later GPL2 were written, free software was a very foreign philosphy. Those carefully composed licenses have been remarkably important and comprehensive at advancing the general goals of free software. Of course other licenses like the FDL for documentation have come along to address issue that the GPL didn't do very well.

    So today the idea of free software is more mainstream and many of the past threats relatively diffused. But the recent intellectual property [sic] madness has caused a new unignorable threat to emerge...patents. This is why a new revision of the GPL is needed, to more forcibly address IP issues. This is also a big issue with standards bodies, governments, other open source projects like Apache, and yes even many commercial proprietary software vendors. So perhaps this is one case where the Apache folks actually leapfrogged FSF in trying to address this modern problem.

    I believe patents to be the most credible threat to free/open source. The SCO stuff is tiny in comparison as it can have no long-lasting permament effect, even if SCO is absolutely correct [grin].
  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:27PM (#8319977)
    And nobody cared?
    Is this the beginning of market forces affecting the open source movement? Practical realities asserting themselves over floating abstractions?
  • Tower of Babel (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stuffduff (681819) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:30PM (#8320008) Journal
    I think that the Open Source movement is approaching a crossroads where the failure to have reached a viable consensus over what a proper license should be will seriously impede the future of software synergy and integration that the OS world so desparately needs.

    When the licenses prohibit the joining to two pieces of code that have been designed to work together (and do work together) then it's pretty obvious to me that we've all missed the point as to what this is all about. Since we can't afford to "kill all the lawyers" maybe it's time to let them "cooperate" (yes they can do this) on using the methodology by which Open Source software is constructed as a model for a process to construct modular licenses that can interoperate and integrate with one another in a cooperative and constructive manner. There is alot to be learned now vis-a-vis the SCO case, and a history to be gleaned from BSD.

    If Linus, and his crew, can build a kernel; then the folks at the FSF should be able to build a licensing agreement that we can all live with.

    • Re:Tower of Babel (Score:3, Insightful)

      by __past__ (542467)

      I think that the Open Source movement is approaching a crossroads where the failure to have reached a viable consensus over what a proper license should be will seriously impede the future of software synergy and integration that the OS world so desparately needs.

      There are detailed descriptions, which are not too far apart from each other, of what it means to be Open Source [opensource.org] or Free [fsf.org] Software [debian.org].

      While there are certainly more free/open source licenses than would be neccessary (and the OSI is at least trying

  • by BabyDave (575083) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:33PM (#8320048)

    (Quoted from Eben's message)

    Such a situation is particularly troublesome where A is in no way acting to threaten the freedom of free software, but B *is* doing so (perhaps, for example, by bringing not patent claims but trade secret and contractual claims against A with the specific intent of harming the freedom of free software)

    As if that would ever happen ... what did you say? Darl Mc-who?

  • by hexene (68121) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:36PM (#8320082) Homepage
    Eben Moglen has previously stated on behalf of the FSF [apache.org]:

    ... FSF continues to believe that the achievement of compatibility between ASL and GPL would be of enormous benefit to the community of free software developers, allowing merger of valuable code bases currently separated by license incompatibilities. FSF is pleased to note the convergence implied by the ASL 2.0 draft. FSF will make efforts, in the development, discussion, and adoption of GPL 3 to further the process of convergence, by carefully considering the Apache Foundation's approach to the patent defense problem...

    So there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

  • by ZuperDee (161571) <zuperdee@yahooNETBSD.com minus bsd> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:37PM (#8320091) Homepage Journal
    It seems they said long ago in their Halloween Documents [opensource.org] that "The lack of singular, customer-focused management has resulted in the unwillingness to compromise between the different initiatives and is evident of the management costs in the Linux process."

    In my opinion, this recent XFree86 (and now Apache) business is further proof that Microsoft was right about this. I'm not trying to bash open source as a whole--I am a big Linux fan. However, I think this problem MUST be solved if the OSS community is to move forward. We cannot go on having endless fragmentation of projects, proliferation of different (non) standards and forks and everyone-going-their-own-way. A truly usable desktop OS's bread-and-butter is its ability to have truly inter-operable (dare I say this--horizontally integrated) components.

    Just my 2 cents worth.
  • by Goonie (8651) * <robert.merkel@benamb r a . org> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:37PM (#8320095) Homepage
    If I'm reading this correctly, GPL incompatibility isn't a huge issue with regards to Apache.

    What this means is it can't be linked (like a library is linked) with GPL'd code. But that's not an issue anyway, as Apache doesn't need to link to any GPL'd code. Pretty much all the libraries on a Linux system are LGPL'd (or under even less restrictive licenses like the BSD license), which can be dynamically linked to anything, including proprietary code - yep, that's right, Microsoft Word could be legally linked to an LGPL'd library.

    Where it does matter is if somebody wants to add a piece of code from a GPL'd project in Apache, or a piece of Apache to a GPL project. So, this would be nice to sort out, but it doesn't have the urgency of the XFree86 issue, where all the end-user apps on the system link to the X libraries.

  • by ortcutt (711694) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:45PM (#8320181)
    I'm like many of you was having a little difficulty understanding what exactly isn't compatible with the GPL. I think part of the problem is that Moglen gets all of the section numbers wrong. He says that the only incompatibility is with Section 5. He writes:
    Second, with respect to section 5:

    FSF, having long warned against the dangers of software patents, entirely shares the goal of providing protection against inappropriate and destructive uses of patent claims to interfere with software freedom. The Foundation expects version 3 of the GPL to incorporate one or more license provisions designed to increase the collective defense against patent abuse. The two provisions contained in section 5, however, embody two quite different theories of response.

    But Section 5 isn't about software patents at all. Section 5 of the APL v.2.0 reads:
    5. Submission of Contributions. Unless You explicitly state otherwise, any Contribution intentionally submitted for inclusion in the Work by You to the Licensor shall be under the terms and conditions of this License, without any additional terms or conditions. Notwithstanding the above, nothing herein shall supersede or modify the terms of any separate license agreement you may have executed with Licensor regarding such Contributions.

    Furthermore, he complains earlier about problems with Section 3.c. There is no section 3.c There is a section 4.c which has roughly the provisions which he seems to be talking about.

    I'm slightly disappointed. I usually expect better work from Eben Moglen. N.B., I have checked his references against the section numbers in the GPL and they don't refer to sections in the GPL.

  • Who cares? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by neurojab (15737) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:47PM (#8320201)

    I, for one, use plenty of non-GPL software in my day to day life. I enjoy GPL software, but I tend to release open source software under more permissive licenses, such as MIT. I also use (and write) a lot of (gasp) closed source software as well.

    For the love of Pete, there are plenty of different software licenses out there. If you don't like the terms of a given license, don't use the software. If apache changes their terms because they think it makes them less likely to be sued, good for them. The GPL isn't the One True License, it's just one of the more restrictive ones that still claims to be "free". News flash: you can run software with virtually any license as long as you agree to the conditions. If some GPL-zealot distribution decides not to include Apache because of this, that's their problem.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:50PM (#8320246)
    I don't get the anti-RMS comments.

    How many SCO's will we go through before we get it: LEGAL NITPICKING MATTERS A LOT.

    The most important thing on a piece of code today is the license. Not the algorithms, not how "cool" the author is. That's what makes or break any piece of "intellectual proeprty". That's what protects our open source from the bigco's of the world.

    Sure, we love Linus because he's a "best tool for the job" kinda guy, and apolitical, like many of us. But he's not focusing on the legal issues.

    I'm damn thankful that the FSF goes over these licenses in excruciating, anal-retentive detail. That's why I send them my $120+ every year. Because when Apache, or LINUX (hello SCO), or any other open source project gets to court (and it will happen, SCO is just the start), the lawyer on the other side will make RMS look like Linus.

    It bugs me that all these projects insist on inventing their own licenses. Why not just use the BSD license with a trademark restrictions? But if the FSF says it's GPL compatible, then I know I can count on AT LEAST what the GPL offers. I know the GPL pretty well, I first saw more than a decade ago. I use Apache on many servers but honestly I haven't read the license from start to finish.

    This particular statement from the FSF is not "forcing" anything. It's not even really newsworthy: the FSF is just stating that the MOST POPULAR and most thoroughly examined GPL has some conflicts with the relatively new ASF license. It's not "open source infighting". It's not even worth a /. story IMO. The FSF themselves said there's nothing wrong with the patent clause, it's just incompatible with the GPL today. A statement of fact.

    So guys, get over it. You can't code your way out of the web of IP laws in this country using Perl. You need carefully crafted and thoroughly peer-reviewed licenses. You can't be "casual" about licenses or contracts and other legal documents.
    • by steveha (103154) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @06:53PM (#8320849) Homepage
      People complain about FSF, RMS, debian-legal and so on all being nit-picky about fine points of licensing.

      The correct attitude about this is: I'm so glad those guys are nit-picky so I don't have to be!

      We can grab a Linux kernel, and a whole bunch of cool software. We can use them, give copies to our friends, modify them... and we don't need to worry about IP issues, because other people are doing the worrying for us.

      Be grateful.

      steveha
  • by mjrauhal (144713) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:50PM (#8320249) Homepage
    If the Apache Foundation indeed is of the opinion that Apache Licensed code may be distributed under the GPL, maybe they could just make things easier for everyone and distribute everything explicitly under both their new license and the GPL.
  • by buhatkj (712163) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @06:01PM (#8320336) Homepage
    ever try to really READ the GPL??(or the apache license for that matter...) its a wonderful piece of work, but hot damn is it ever complex, and full of lawyer-speak. for my own projects, i have taken to using license based off the zlib license. its short, sweet, and so much easier to understand.
    besides, i dont want to exclude commercial interest in my work, i just want to make it clear that it was ME who wrote it.
    and by the way, several other versions of the apache license are listed as incompatible too.
    honestly, i think this is a non-problem that people are making too big a deal about. we can still all use apache for free, for home AND business.

    how bout this for an OS license:

    this software is copyright (whoever) (whenever)
    it may redistributed by any medium, provided:
    -all changes are clearly labelled
    -the original author(s) are credited as the creators of the original code.
    -if this code is used as part of a commercial product, any modification of a source code file which was an original part of this software's source code must be made available under this license.

    so then we can use it commercially, but actual changes or improvements to the given software ITself are still open source. but like if they use this as a part of a commercial product they only need to release the changes they made to this for their use, not their whole application.

    i dunno, i like it...
    -Ted
    • by Scooby Snacks (516469) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @07:15PM (#8321079)

      Good God, I'm sorry about the formatting on that. LiveJournal rots the brain. Those auto-linebreaks are evil, and I should have previewed.

      Sweet Jesus, have you ever read the GPL [gnu.org]? More to the point, have you tried reading any document purporting to be a software use license? The GPL is a beacon of simplicity.

      Yes, we do in fact need the very slight complexity introduced by documents like the GPL in order for the meaning to be clear. For example, where is "source code" defined in the first draft of your license? It could be successfully argued that a modified version of your program, compiled, then decompiled, then run through an obfuscator would constitute compliance with your license. The GPL includes a simple definition: Source code is "the preferred form of the work for making modifications to it". A second sentence in that paragraph clarifies that we're talking about the whole thing, not just diffs -- and it means Makefiles, too. (Would you like to try compiling the Linux kernel without Makefiles?) The third sentence in that paragraph clarifies that you don't need to provide something which you may not be able to provide -- source code for "anything that is normally distributed... with the major components... of the operating system on which the executable runs" (for example, Vim for MS Windows).

      Going back to your license, it's not even clear to me that it's required to distribute source code to the program, not even for derived works.

      Basically, the entire thirteen-clause document is like this. It states what is required, in a nutshell, and then clarifies what was said so that it is as precise as possible.

      Think of legal matters the same as you think of programming. You can't just tell the computer, "Put a window on the screen." You have to tell it where, and what it's supposed to contain, and at lower levels (xlibs, MFC, or whatever) what a window is, how to draw it, and so on. The main problem is that language is horribly imprecise, especially for purposes like these. This is why licenses and contracts tend to start out with at least a paragraph or two defining what certain terms, as used in the document, will mean.

      I'm not trying to be grouchy or come across as condescending, but legal matters do take a suprising amount of work to get right. Don't misunderstand me, though, IANAL or an apologist for one.

  • by armando_wall (714879) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @06:54PM (#8320866) Homepage

    Well, Roxen [roxen.com] has its GPL'ed webserver [roxen.com], and it's a very good one.

    I like Apache and everything, but it's good to know there are alternatives.

  • It DOES matter! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Eric Smith (4379) * <eric@NosPAm.brouhaha.com> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @08:19PM (#8321645) Homepage Journal
    prominent Apache hacker Roy Fielding claims that it doesn't really matter what the FSF thinks about the matter, because according to the Apache Software Foundation, derived works can just be distributed under the GPL.
    It most certainly does matter.

    If I want to distribute a derived work made partially from Apache software under the Apache license version 2, and partially from Foobarco's software under the GPL version 2, the fact that Roy Fielding (or even the Apache Foudnation) is OK with it does NOT solve the problem. Distributing the derived work under the Apache license terms is a violation of the GPL, and Foobarco would have grounds for action.

  • by JonMartin (123209) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:52PM (#8322432) Homepage
    OpenBSD ships with Apache. Not two hours ago Theo de Raadt sent this message to the OpenBSD mailing list:
    And another license issue..

    The new apache license is not acceptable. Code written under that new license will never go into our tree.

    Look, I am quite frankly getting sick and tired of this. It is time for the user community to tell these software developers who have gotten themselves involved with lawyers to stop it. They are NOT making their software better, they are NOT protecting anyone, and they we NOT making their software any more free when they add new terms.

    As of this moment in time, therefore, it looks like the httpd in OpenBSD has now become a fork. It will continue to be managed under the existing license.

    XFree86 on Monday and now this. What project will screw their license up tomorrow?

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